CINCINNATI -- When asked Friday if anything was new, avid hunter Homer Bailey replied with a big smile: "Well, I've got a new bow."
Bailey buried the lead, as writers would say, since he also learned that he would be replacing the suspended Johnny Cueto to start Sunday vs. the Marlins. It will be his first start since May 23 at Cleveland. The right-hander has been on the disabled list because of right shoulder inflammation.
In four Minor League rehab games (including three starts), Bailey was 2-1 with a 1.44 ERA, four walks and 17 strikeouts with Class A Dayton and Triple-A Louisville.
"I was healthy and getting my pitch count up, [and] obviously I was throwing well," Bailey said. "I will just do whatever they say."
Cueto was suspended seven games for actions during Tuesday's melee with the Cardinals. A roster move will be needed to get Bailey back on the roster since Cueto cannot be replaced.
Bailey, 24, is 1-2 with a 5.51 ERA in nine starts for the Reds this season. There was speculation that he might start Saturday for Mike Leake because his past outing on Tuesday was altered from a planned start to a one-inning relief appearance. Leake is still taking his turn on Saturday for Cincinnati. There was a chance Bailey could have returned and gone to the bullpen.
"They didn't know what day I would be starting and also if I came up and they used me out of the 'pen, at least I'd have one go at it so I could feel it out," said Bailey, who has little to no experience as a reliever.
The Reds will have some decisions to make soon about which five starters they'll want for the stretch run. Besides Cueto's eventual return, Travis Wood can be recalled from the Minors soon and Aaron Harang is about to start a rehab assignment to come back from an injured back.
"We still have a month and half, so the pennant race hasn't really started for another two or three weeks, not until you get to the wire," Bailey said. "If you're thinking about the pennant race, you're not going to end up being in it. We need to take everything one day at a time, so it's just a start."